[Sugar triggers our reward-system. Sweets release opiates which stimulates the appetite for sucrose--insulin can depress it]

Lakartidningen. 2005 May;102(21):1620-2, 1625, 1627.
[Article in Swedish]


The consumption of sweet food has increased in Sweden, as in other Western countries. The type of food item has changed. The sweet is dominated by soft drinks. Appetite regulation for sucrose has been described in experimental animal models. It has been found that opioids stimulate appetite for sucrose. At the same time sucrose releases endogenous opioids so that a triggering of sucrose consumption occurs. Insulin has been shown to decrease sucrose intake by blocking the opioid response. Sucrose addiction has been described in rat model. With a concentrated sucrose solution to drink an opioid dependence developed with 1) increased consumption of sucrose 2) abstinence symptoms with no sucrose and 3) anxiety with an opiate blocker. Sucrose addiction in man has not been described in the scientific literature. There is an increased liking of sweets with alcoholic persons, which may be significant to support a strongly rewarding effect of sucrose, also in man. We should limit the access to sweet foods, in particular the sweet drinks. Insulin and insulin sensitivity may be an important factor to restrict the intake of sweet food.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetite / drug effects
  • Appetite / physiology*
  • Beverages / adverse effects
  • Brain Mapping
  • Candy / adverse effects
  • Dietary Sucrose / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Sucrose / adverse effects
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Humans
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / physiology*
  • Opioid Peptides / administration & dosage
  • Opioid Peptides / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Opioid / drug effects
  • Receptors, Opioid / physiology*
  • Reward*
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology
  • Taste / drug effects
  • Taste / physiology


  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Insulin
  • Opioid Peptides
  • Receptors, Opioid